Chicago Exhibitors Deserve Your Full Attention

Apologies to our colleagues at the International Housewares Association if I occasionally refer to the newly named Inspired Home Show as the housewares show.

I appreciate the reasoning behind the show’s refreshed positioning and new name, just as I did when it became the International Home + Housewares Show in 2004. Some habits die hard.

Earnest Support

Whatever you want to call the show, the housewares industry has earnestly supported its annual centerpiece event through name changes, date changes and marketplace changes.

Through such change, though, I have never in 30 years of covering the show been questioned as often as I have this winter about suppliers leaving the show. KitchenAid. Meyer. Corelle Brands/Instant Brands. Libbey. Zak Designs. Luigi Bormioli. These are some of the high-profile suppliers skipping the 2020 show March 14-17 in Chicago.

Trade show costs are under constant scrutiny as vendors dissect more doggedly the return on every dollar spent as margins compress. Companies large, medium and small have dropped the Chicago show for myriad reasons through the years, with many returning after a hiatus.

The IHA, as it has many times before, has adapted and advanced the show, infusing it with more content, education and special exhibits that reflect its objective to facilitate B2B engagement with a stronger connection to the consumer. The show has proven to be resiliently productive, consistently serving up a wide view of the industry for chief retail decision makers.

Senior Attendance

“The show’s core strength and a key benefit for exhibitors continues to be strong attendance from senior retail management with CEOs, GMMs and DMMs attending in large numbers,” said IHA President Derek Miller.

Miller also addressed reports that some companies exiting the McCormick Place exhibit floor this year plan to invite to offsite locations retailers who likely wouldn’t be in Chicago if not for the show.

“Companies that plan to use offsite space to meet with buyers during The Inspired Home Show clearly see significant value in our industry gathering that IHA and our paying exhibitors create each March,” Miller said.

Stronger Deterrent

“Buyers have told us that they do not appreciate having to travel to and from McCormick Place to other venues during the show,” Miller continued. “This is a real time and opportunity cost to our buyers and is a disservice to the industry.”

Miller said the IHA and its retail advisory board “strongly discourage” such offboarding. Perhaps a stronger deterrent is needed, starting with the refusal by retailers to attend offsite meetings with non-exhibitors during the show.

The exhibitors that continue to support the Chicago show, whatever you want to call it, deserve your full attention.